Does UMR Pay for Gym Memberships?

Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health. But gym memberships can get expensive. So will your health insurance through UMR help pay the costs?

UMR, formerly United Medical Resources, is one of the largest third-party administrators of employer-funded health plans. They partner with UnitedHealthcare to provide coverage to over 2.6 million members.

Below we’ll explore UMR’s policies on covering gym memberships and other wellness programs that promote physical fitness.

Does UMR Cover Gym Membership Costs?

The short answer is that standard UMR medical plans typically do NOT cover gym memberships or related costs like fitness classes.

Most UMR plans are employer-sponsored group health policies. The employer chooses which benefits to include.

Since gym access is not considered essential medical care, employers usually don’t elect to provide a fitness membership allowance.

However, UMR notes there are exceptions in certain cases:

  • Some self-funded employers may customize benefits to include a gym reimbursement, but this is rare.

  • Medicare Advantage plans administered by UMR may offer gym membership perks like SilverSneakers.

So unless your employer specifically elected an enhanced wellness package, your basic UMR plan likely won’t directly pay for gym fees.

UMR Workplace Wellness Program Options

While routine gym memberships may not be covered, UMR does offer various workplace wellness programs focused on increasing activity.

Some examples of UMR workplace wellness initiatives include:

  • Fitness challenges – team-based contests to achieve step goals

  • Healthy pregnancy programs – support for active lifestyles during pregnancy

  • Garmin device discounts – reduced rates on activity trackers

  • Exercise tool kits – containing items like resistance bands, yoga mats

  • Educational resources – guidance on improving activity habits

  • Onsite fitness classes – options like yoga, Zumba, kickboxing

  • Walking programs – encouragement for daily walking routines

Your employer can select to offer some of these programs. Talk to your human resources department about available options.

While these initiatives don’t reimburse for gym expenses, they help foster fitness habits. Taking part provides encouragement and accountability.

Does UMR Offer Any Gym Discounts?

While routine reimbursement for gym memberships is rare, UMR members can take advantage of special fitness discounts through:

  • Optum Perks – discounts on gym memberships, fitness gear, race fees

  • Active&Fit Direct – low rates on gym network access nationwide

  • GlobalFit – discounts on select gym chains, trainers, fitness equipment

These programs allow you to save on gym fees and other costs. Discounts may range from 10% to over 50% depending on your location.

Searching “gym discounts” on the UMR member site brings up available programs. Following the links provides enrollment details to start saving on fitness expenses.

Using FSA for Gym Memberships

If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), you may be able to use pre-tax FSA dollars to pay for some fitness expenses.

Some potentially eligible gym-related items include:

  • Gym or health club membership dues
  • Fitness class fees like CrossFit, yoga, bootcamps
  • Youth sports registration fees
  • Personal trainer fees
  • Fitness equipment like weights, treadmills, exercise bikes

Save your receipts and submit for reimbursement from your FSA provider. Check first to ensure your specific expenses qualify under your employer’s plan.

Setting aside pre-tax FSA money for fitness costs helps offset the fees. Depending on your tax bracket, this could save you anywhere from 10% to over 30% compared to paying out-of-pocket.

Using HSA or HRA for Fitness Costs

If you have a health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), you may also be able to use these accounts for fitness expenses:

  • HSA – If your HDHP is compatible, you can use HSA dollars for gym fees or fitness equipment.

  • HRA – With an HRA, reimbursement depends on your employer’s eligible expenses list. If exercise costs are included, you can submit for reimbursement.

Always save your documentation, and checklists of eligible expenses for your specific HSA or HRA. Some additional rules, like whether equipment is reimbursable, may apply.

Should You Appeal a Denied Gym Membership Claim?

In very limited cases where your employer provides an enhanced wellness benefit, you may be able to submit gym fees for reimbursement:

  • Review Summary Plan Description – Carefully check what your policy covers related to fitness.

  • Submit receipt with claim form – If eligible, include documentation of your qualified expense.

  • Call UMR about denials – If your gym claim is denied unexpectedly, contact UMR to investigate why.

  • File an appeal – For an improper denial of a covered benefit, submit a written appeal to dispute it.

However, routine gym memberships remain excluded from most standard UMR plans. Denials are likely appropriate unless your employer has specially added this coverage.

Alternative Ways to Reduce Gym Membership Costs

Without insurance covering gym fees, here are some tips to lower your fitness costs:

  • Ask about discounts – Membership deals for students, seniors, corporate employees or spouses.

  • Take the free trial – Many gyms offer 1 week to 1 month free trials to experience the facility.

  • Visit your local YMCA – Community centers like YMCA often have lower membership fees and financial assistance.

  • Try a budget gym – Facilities like Planet Fitness offer bare bones equipment at very low monthly fees.

  • Join a sports league – Some clubs cover fitness classes and gym access as part of sport registration fees.

  • Attend community events – Free yoga in the park or open swim hours at public pools.

  • Rotate through ClassPass – Mix up gym time by buying ClassPass credits each month to sample various boutique studios.

  • Share an account – Split costs with a friend or family member by joining under the same membership.

  • Work out at home – Use free YouTube exercise videos and invest in basic equipment like weights and resistance bands.

Should You Join a Gym for Health Reasons?

Is buying a gym membership worth it for your health? Some key benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and certain cancers

  • Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels

  • Increased strength, energy levels, and mental acuity

  • Better weight control and muscle tone

  • Improved mood and management of stress, anxiety, and depression

For most adults, aiming for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly is recommended. Joining a gym can provide access to equipment, classes, trainers, and a social setting that facilitates meeting these goals.

Working out at home is also an option. But for some, the gym atmosphere provides more structure and accountability.

Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise routine that matches your health needs and fitness capabilities.

Should UMR Start Reimbursing for Gym Memberships?

While rare currently, should UMR and other insurers start covering the costs of gym memberships and fitness programs?

Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Potential Pros

  • Encourages members to exercise regularly, improving long-term health

  • Increased activity can reduce risk of costly medical issues like heart disease

  • Makes fitness center access more equitable across income levels

  • Employers could see increased productivity with healthier staff

Potential Cons

  • Adds expense for health plans, which may increase premiums

  • Hard for insurers to monitor appropriate utilization

  • Employers may not want to take on additional coverage costs

  • Exercising regularly is possible without a paid gym membership

Overall there are reasonable arguments on both sides as to whether basic gym access is healthcare or a personal expense. But incentivizing routine exercise provides valuable disease prevention benefits for individuals and the healthcare system.

Key Takeaways

  • Routine gym fees are typically excluded from standard UMR medical plans

  • Employers can elect enhanced packages covering fitness, but this is uncommon

  • Medicare Advantage policies may include a gym benefit like SilverSneakers

  • Discounts on gyms and fitness gear are available through UMR’s Optum Perks

  • FSAs can be used for qualified fitness expenses depending on employer rules

  • HDHP enrollees may be able to utilize HSA or HRA funds for gym costs

  • Denials are usually appropriate given routine gym services are excluded

  • Weigh pros and cons of paying out-of-pocket for fitness center access

Check with UMR and your employer on whether any special wellness benefits apply before assuming gym memberships are not covered. Taking advantage of applicable discounts and tax-savings programs can

Get Fit For Free! UHC Renew Active & One Pass Gym Membership Offer


Is UMR insurance the same as UnitedHealthcare?

UMR, UnitedHealthcare’s third-party administrator (TPA) solution, is the nation’s largest TPA. As a UnitedHealthcare company, UMR has long been a pioneer in revolutionizing self-funding. We focus on delivering customer solutions that meet their goals and strategies.

Does UMR have a rewards program?

View the different activities you can complete to earn UMR MasterCard reward cards and download the affidavits you need to sign and have signed to receive a reward card. SoulCore integrates the prayers of the rosary with functional movements and stretches, inviting participants to nourish their body and soul.

Can you have multiple gym memberships with renew active?

What does the benefit offer members? Free gym membership at more than 26,000 network locations. Use the UCardĀ® the first visit to a participating gym to enroll into a gym membership using their Renew Active benefit. Members can use multiple gyms in the Renew Active network.

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